Article Text


Consumption of takeaway and fast food in a deprived inner London Borough: are they associated with childhood obesity?
  1. Rachel Patterson1,
  2. Alexander Risby2,
  3. Mei-Yen Chan3
  1. 1Freelance dietitian
  2. 2Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  3. 3School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mei-Yen Chan; mei-yen.chan{at}


Objective A major concern is the ubiquitous presence of fast food and takeaway outlets within easy walking distance of schools, particularly in the light of the increasing burden of childhood obesity. Here, the associations between the schoolchildren's weights, their consumption of fast food and takeaway outlets were examined in a deprived inner London Borough.

Design This is a cross-sectional study.

Participants 193 schoolchildren (aged between 11 and 14 years old) participated in this study.

Main outcome measures Body mass index (BMI) percentiles specific for age and gender were obtained. Frequency of food and drinks purchased from fast food outlets and takeaway outlets over a weekly period and preferred types of drinks and food products usually consumed were measured.

Results More than 50% of the children in our survey purchased food or drinks from fast food or takeaway outlets twice or more a week, with about 10% consuming fast food or drinks from these outlets daily. About 70% of these children from Black ethnic groups and 54% of Asians purchased fast food more than twice a week. BMI has a significantly inverse relationship to fast food consumption. However, when age and gender are accounted, the BMI age–gender percentile is no longer significantly related to fast food consumption.

Conclusions This study revealed a very high frequency of fast food consumption among the schoolchildren. Taste, quick access and peer influence were major contributing factors. These schoolchildren are exposed to an obesogenic environment, and it is not surprising that in this situation, many of these children are already overweight and will likely become obese as adults.

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  • To cite: Patterson R, Risby A, Chan M-Y. Consumption of takeaway and fast food in a deprived inner London Borough: are they associated with childhood obesity? BMJ Open 2012;2:e000402. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000402

  • Contributors At the time of the data collection, all authors were with London Metropolitan University. M-YC conceived and designed the study. RP and AR recruited the sample and collected the data. All authors analysed and interpreted the data. RP and M-YC wrote the manuscript, edited and approved the final version for submission.

  • Funding This research was funded by NHS Tower Hamlets.

  • Competing interests All authors have completed the Unified Competing Interest form at (available on request from the corresponding author M-YC) and declare no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by London Metropolitan University Research Ethics Panel.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data available.

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